The main goals of the reading program are to encourage students to enjoy reading, to appreciate good literature, to become fluent readers, and to understand, interpret and synthesize information. Reading should excite the imagination, inspire invigorating discussion, lead students to inquiry and discovery, and help students make meaningful connections. Students read a variety of genres including novels, short stories, poems, essays, plays, mysteries, fables, folktales, legends, biographies, and nonfiction. Teachers consistently emphasize fluency, accuracy, and expressiveness in oral reading. Independent and silent reading are also integrated into the reading program. Book reports and projects are frequent and often require creativity, problem-solving, and inquiry. Choices focus on each child’s ability and interests.
Teaching methodologies include direct instruction of formal comprehension skills, class discussion, lecture, directed reading, vocabulary preparation, and providing background. Project-based, hands-on, and experiential techniques are used, as is arts integration. Teachers use brainstorming, debate, group read-aloud, and role-playing, as well as literature circles, or other small group discussions or projects. Written responses to literature may take a variety of forms, such as answering formal comprehension questions, journaling or reading logs, diary entries, newspaper articles, and character interviews.
In writing, students work on expressing themselves clearly, vividly and with meaning through well-structured sentences and paragraphs. The writing program emphasizes the development of fluency in a variety of forms of writing including personal narratives, journals, letter-writing, persuasive writing, poetry, scriptwriting and different types of creative stories. Expository writing assignments include essays, research reports, journalism (class newspaper), and writing in the content areas of all subjects. Methodologies include teaching the entire continuum of the writing experience, from brainstorming and drafting to revising, editing, polishing, and publishing. There is a focus on purpose, audience, voice, organization, word choices, and descriptive details.